2017.06.29 – Road Trip Day Two – To LA

Mine!

Picture Gallery Day 2 on my SFW Site

This might have been the forgetful day of my road trip. The ride from Morro Bay to LA more or less was typical coastal and nothing really mind blowing. Even the food for the most part was nothing really special to write about. I had a good omelette for breakfast, but compared to the other food I had this trip – it blends in the background.

While tasty – this meal has blended into the background of my memories.

It was nice walking around the Santa Monica pier, but once again, nothing really special about it. Didn’t feel any different than the Santa Cruz pier. Although, it was fun watching the seagulls fight over a fish they stole from a fisherman.

A big map!

Instead of going down 1 through Malibu, I decided that I was going to just stick to 101 and get to my hotel as soon as possible. Around Ventura, traffic picked up and I caught up to a a Gixxer who passed me earlier. I decided that to follow him as soon as we needed to split lanes, and what an introduction to LA Lane Splitting that was. Overall the drivers in LA are way better about dealing with motorcycles – and the bikers have a style that is way more aggressive. The whole time I never felt unsafe – not a single close call in the nearly 45 minutes of splitting we had to do.

Looking back at Santa Barbra

Eventually I lose him as he heads off for the 405. Eventually I get to my hotel, 1 hour earlier than the google maps prediction. I stayed at the Park Plaza Motel over in La Brae. It came out to around 135 for the night, which is pretty cheap for that part of LA. Honestly, it worked out perfectly for me. When I checked in, they noticed I had a motorcycle and told me to park it in one of the “reserved” spaces up front that they typically reserve for the large suites.

After I showered, I did a walk over through the Grove and then over to West Hollywood. Part of me has been wanting to check out the main gayborhood in LA for a while and I decided to just hit up Hamburger Mary’s for dinner, which was solid. Overall, there is something just missing form all of the gayborhoods lately. Things seem formulaic now.

Afterwords, I walked up and down Santa Monica Boulevard and stopped in a few bars. The one thing I noticed is that most people were a few ticks more friendly than SF. Maybe this is because I have the fresh meat factor, but it seemed easier to strike up a meaningful conversation. Then I grabbed a Lyft and headed over to the Eagle LA. Once again, the same trend was there. It was also nice to just sit out in the patio there with a beer and not have to worry if I needed a hoodie.

The one thing that really worked well was leaving Matte alone at the hotel and walking around. Even though the first two days didn’t have much riding, it was good for my body to stretch and move around.

I am pretty sure I could adjust to the LA weather. There was something just right about the temperature range for me. Not too hot, not too cold. I need to check out LA more. Each time I end up there, it goes up higher as a place I my want to move to in the future.

I swear, this is a what the ice cubes looked like at the Motel!

2017.06.28 – Road Trip Day One

A few weeks ago, I realized I needed a vacation. So I decided to take some time off around the 4th of the July (since the 3rd was also a company holiday) and head down to the desert. Since I knew some of the people going to Drummer California, I decided that I should go ahead and spend three nights over in Palm Springs. So I booked a room at CCBC and off I went. And boy what an adventure it was.

What I am going to do is split this up into multiple posts and leave the gallery of photos up on my SFW site.

Picture Gallery on my SFW Site

Arriving in Morro Bay just in time for the sunset.

Read more “2017.06.28 – Road Trip Day One”

2017.06.10 – Feeling amused

Last night was amusing to me. I decided that before I spend 4-6 hours riding around coastal and mountain roads that I should make sure the suit fits right and get it broken in a bit. So I just rode around SF for a two hours. While it should come as no surprise to anyone, it really felt like I now was the rabbit that every street racer on two or four wheels wanted to chase. Instead of giving them what they wanted, I just didn’t give a fuck and cruised around at my own pace. I didn’t even care when a scooter rider tried to race me down Oak (and seriously, who does that – the lights are fucking timed for 30!). To me I was just amused.

I am sure I amused some people as well, the guy in race gear cruising around at the speed limit and just taking it chill. When I started riding, my sane friends told me to just not worry about anyone else on the road and do things at my own pace. This might be the best advice one can follow.

Now I can see why people with less self control can get themselves in trouble wearing race suits. I’ve read several articles about it, and now I understand why. My body just clicks into place on the motorcycle in a very controlling, aggressive, and confident position – that was just upright. Once I was able to get some clear roads, I found out how much it made a difference. Going around some of the twisty roads, I found myself going much faster through the corners than I have in the past. Some of this is the new tires on Matte, but the new gear also had an effect.

I also found it much easier to hang my body off to the sides in the suit. To me this is interesting, since the gear I normally wear is pretty much track level gear as well. Since they are zipped together it is not like there is a firm connection between the butt and back. In the suit, it that firm connection meant wiggling my butt forced my back over a bit. That feedback to me is rather paramount – and I think it is the reason why I took some of the turns on O’ Shaughnessy at the speeds I took. I am not going to say how fast I took this turn, but I still had nearly a foot before my knee would make contact with the road and I was already doing a good pace. Off the back of an envelope, I would have to be doing at least 100 mph to be leaned over far enough to where my knees where scraping.

I will continue to say this – if I am ever putting my knee down on purpose on the streets, someone take my motorcycle keys away from me. Conversely, I need to get myself some track lessons and do some track days over the summer. There is something rather additive about all of this as I get more comfortable – just need to do it in a safe and controlled environment.

For me, this suit is that it feels like there are clicks on the positions for me. There is the mostly upright position which for me and my bike is somewhere about a 20 degree forward lean. Then the halfway tuck where my helmet is just getting protection from the windscreen – this is typically where my body ends up on the freeway when there is no traffic. So far so good and going between them was easy. While I could stay between the two – it was clear to me that the suit was designed to be worn in certain body positions and my natural positions fit are there.

Once I found some clear roads, it was time to go down on Matte and I went into a full tuck. It was like I had someone force my back and body down. My belly slapped down fully on the tank, elbows resting on my legs, helmet bouncing on my cell phone mount. Do’h – the phone mount is right were my helmet wanted to go! But there was no middle ground, this suit was forcing me into the correct tuck position and keeping me there. Now keep in mind, my bike is not a race bred super sport and is a bit more upright and takes some effort to go down like this in my normal gear, but it was was effortless.

Being in that position, it felt like I was on the hunt. Now I see why people get in trouble. that was a very primal feeling.

2017.03.14 – Recovering

Starting to feel more normal again

Last week, I had an accident. It is not what you think. It did not happen on the motorcycle, but rather right here in my own kitchen. I slipped and fell into the corner (where the camera is at) of the granite countertop and fractured my shoulder.

Yep – It’s fractured!

It looks like the recovery for me will be fairly quick. They want me out of the sling next week and want to start adding weight again in a few more weeks. I will be seeing a physical therapist soon and will go from there.

But the last week was hard for me – I was really starting to enjoy the motorcycle. Didn’t hurt that it made my commute much faster and cheaper. During the afternoon last Tuesday I was planning on making a trip down to Monterey for Sunday. On top of that, everyone around me noticed that my mood was just getting better. Since I had to focus on the road and bike – I would get to the office or home with a completely clear head. I honestly was feeling great.

So I went from that, plus getting around 8-12 hours of athletic activity in a week to basically having to sit back and do nearly nothing! I was fairly depressed over the last week. It is the reason why I haven’t posted up much. But that all changed this morning.

I attempted to go out for a run this morning. While within literally 10 steps I knew that my shoulder wasn’t ready for it, just the attempt changed my mood around. The reason why I attempted is because I woke up with no stiffness or soreness. I thought to myself, if I can do a 1 mile run, that would really help me. Sometimes just the failed attempt is enough to make you go, yes – things will be better.

Instead I’ll just make coffee and enjoy the morning

I need to start preparing for my trip to San Diego over the weekend. Can’t take my big lenses for the zoo, so I will have to make due with the RX100IV for the trip. But I am sure I will still enjoy it and meet plenty of interesting people at SD Leather Pride.

2017.03.03 – I am not dead yet.

I have been a bit silent for the past few days. Last Saturday I finished up the paperwork and rode home my first motorcycle. The last week has been very interesting for me. In a way I feel like I am a new person – something about me internally has changed for the better. But so far it has been an interesting journey. Here is how I started it:

After a bunch of internal back and forth going over should I get a smaller displacement bike in the 300/500cc category such as an Yamaha R3 or a Honda CBR500R or should I get the Honda CBR650F that fits me just right? In the end I decided that fit was way more important than a smaller engine. This was partly due to the fact that the inline-4 in this bike had no real torque spikes and every review mentioned that the power came on smoothly. But also many people who know me all thought that I would be level headed and would keep myself out of trouble. While not a supersport bike, it still puts out 86 horsepower at the crank and 77 at the rear wheel according to most dyno tests, which was something that weighed on the back of my mind.

This was not a decision I took lightly. I was hyper-conscience about what I was going to have between my legs. After I did the wire transfer to the dealer, I was wondering if I made the right decision preventing me from sleeping well last Friday night.

On that Saturday morning, one of my friends who rides picks me up so I can deal with the dealer and then tail me on the ride home. After all of the paperwork is signed, I do a bunch of back and forths in the alley behind the dealer trying to get used to it. Real quick I realize that there really wasn’t much to fear for me. The fit is nearly perfect and I felt no issues controlling it. If I kept the RPMs in a reasonable range, nothing bad was happening. After 30 minutes I hit the road with my friend in tow behind me.

Real quick I realized that I was going to need to do a bunch of parking lot maneuvers, my right hand turns were wide. There was rain on the way and postponed finding a parking lot until Sunday morning. But other than stalling a bunch of times, I was finding this real easy to handle. Part of me was wondering why so many people are against someone new learning on larger bikes, especially when they are a larger individual like myself. But I got home safely, got the bike pulled in in front of my car and decided that I would go find an empty parking lot on Sunday morning, which is a hard thing to do in SF, and practice slow speed turns and turns from stops.

That I did for 45 minutes until a van parked in the middle lot area where I was doing tight figure eight turns. But at that point, I was ready for some coffee and food. And this is where things started to re-wire for me. I was not in my normal neighborhood and I needed to explore. Since I was by the zoo, I just ended up at Java Beach Cafe. But I would normally never end up there since there was no reason to. I immediately start to get what I wanted out of the bike, breaking out my neighborhood and 7×7 square mile of a city.

The next thing I do is drive down Highway 35 until it merges with 280. This forces me to start getting used to starting the bike up hills, but in a very controlled situation with light traffic. Eventually it is time to merge with 280. At this point, I have really yet to be above 45mph, time to open things up a bit more. Without effort, I was doing 80mph and things were just smooth as butter and stable. I got off the freeway a bit later and rode around some roads I cycle and then headed home. This is where I realized that the power of a motorcycle can be insane – while following a BMW M5 on 280, we passed some cars. I looked down at the speedo and saw it indicating 100. I did not feel like I was doing that, but it was time to slow down and stop following that Beemer.

In the end I got home safely. But my adventures continued. Shortly after, I got a call from a friend who needed have his body shaven for an event. So time to make a b-line to the bike again. However, this was my first uphill traffic jam with no opportunity to lane split. By the time I got through it, I was really familiar with the clutch and how to start from a stop up hills on the bike. If anything learning to ride in SF is a trial by fire.

Tuesday made me grateful that I insisted on getting ABS. Someone jotted out in front of me and I had to stop hard on Market St and hit an oil patch on the road. The rear ABS went off, but everything stayed right on the line I wanted and there was no drama. For the life of me, I don’t understand why this is even an option for anyone who wants to ride in traffic or city conditions.

On Wednesday I decided to ride down to the office. I left at 5:45am mainly because I was up and I wanted to beat traffic. There was something magical about my first ride down 101 at dawn. Flying past all of the towns on the Peninsula, breathing in all of the smells, feeling the wind hit me, and watching the sun rise was just one of those magical experiences. It felt right out of a movie.

Once I hit Palo Alto, it started to cool off, and before I knew it, I was tucked in behind the windscreen with my chin resting on the tank bag. Honestly, I can care less if other people think it is douchey to go into a full, or mostly full, sportbike tuck on the roads. But when it is 37 outside and you are going 80 mph being behind the windscreen is a good thing.

On my commute home on Thursday I finally end up lane splitting on 101. And what people forget about it is that people generally make space for you here in the Bay Area. After giving it a quick thought, I saw a good line up until the next bend, and went for it. It wasn’t that bad and way less nerve wrecking than trying to bicycle in downtown SF. In the end, I have never gotten home so quick during heavy traffic periods – I was at my front door in less than an hour! In some ways I wonder if my comfort level is higher because of all of the cycling.

After getting a bit more comfortable splitting lanes, I started filtering more at red lights. All of these little things are becoming a bit less stressful and more natural as I spend more time on the bike. Furthermore, all of my actions are getting smoother. If anything, it seems like there is no substitute for time on the bike.

But throughout this, I know I am exposed. I know that I am invisible. I know that I have something between my legs that have a power-to-weight ratio of an exotic car. There is a healthy respect and fear about what I am doing, and that is still there.

2017.02.19 – Transformation

Left: Me on a run roughly a year ago. Right: This morning’s selfie

It doesn’t seem to me like my body has transformed over the last year. A lot of friends and even coworkers have noticed that I have lost significant weight recently. While my close friends say it has been gradual over the last few months, it really seems like it has just accelerated over the last few months.

It took digging up a selfie in the same outfit I took a year ago and putting it side by side with this mornings selfie to see my transformation. While going through selfies from around this time last year, I really wasn’t looking good. But even then, the selfies of me when I was doing a lot of cycling didn’t look much different. I really credit the new diet I am doing for this transformation.

I am happy that I became a selfie whore a few years ago – it helps keep me honest about what my life was like.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a new scale and I was shocked that I was only 210 – and just a few weeks later, I am at 207! 210 was roughly were I was before my old scale broke about 18 months ago – which coincided with my the reduction in my cycling. Even as of 5 months ago with my visit to the cardiologist, I was still hovering in the 225 range.

This morning I realized that my body has no issue running 10k now. This afternoon, I wish I went longer this morning before it started raining. Even as of a year ago, this was unheard of for me – a 5k run was long then.

Today, I am looking forward to actually running Bay to Breakers as a serious runner in May. I will have to figure out a outfit for it. But I have made a goal of doing it in 1 hour, which would be an 8:05 minute mile pace.

My lesson learned: Life can change fast!

2017.01.25 – More thoughts

I am still trying to figure out why I am so impacted by the close call I had last night. I’ve had plenty of close calls before on my bicycle in SF riding around. But there was something about this one that just impacted me in such a way that I have yet to fully recover. As I sit on my flight to Vegas I am starting to reflect on it and came up with three thoughts that may have contributed to it.

1: I’ve been learning to ride a motorcycle. I think this has a good chunk of the impact since I seem to be more aware of my body position, posture, and overall connection between everything. One of the things I noticed on Monday was that I started to tilt when I turned my head. Maybe this is something I always did, and if so I am just more aware of it. I also broke bad cycling habits and started keeping my head up more instead of looking right in front of my front wheel, started to not cover the brakes, and even use the same head movements you would on a motorcycle.

With all of that combined, I think that helped me avoid running into a curb at 17mph after swerving. But more so – I think I have a much different awareness of risks and actions I can take to mitigate them.

2: I had an eighteen month hiatus from bike commuting in SF. With the office in Cupertino, when I biked into the office, my route was on Highway 35. There isn’t much contention around cyclists and cars except for the Highway 1 intersection. But one of the first things I noticed with the new commute is that SF, and all of SF, seems to be more congested during rush hour than it was when I quit my last job. It seems like nearly every other car is a Lyft or Uber and everyone is impatient on the roads.

I really think that there is just more stress between all commuters in SF

3: I witnessed someone get doored on Monday evening. Was approaching Market and Van Ness in the evening and there was a taxi stopped in the bike lane. Someone with ample lights went to pass on the left and the door just opened on him. This just reinforces my vulnerability when out on two wheels.

2017.01.25 – Glad to be alive

TL;DR: Taking my morning selfies today was tough. I am still recovering from the adrenaline rush and drop from what happened last night on my commute home. If the events of last night were just a few seconds later, I would have been severely injured or possibly dead. I also think learning how to ride a motorcycle and doing a basic rider course over the weekend also possibly saved my life – it managed to break some bad cycling habits.

Adrenaline rush crashes suck! Having a hard time posing this morning.

To set up the play by play – I am on my road bike with my rear light on flash mode, my front be seen light on flash mode, and my main headlight at the 300 lumen (medium) setting. This is typically how I have my lights setup for night riding. Also, this is over the course of 7 seconds (if that).

  1. At the red light at Oak and Stanyan stopped waiting for it to change. I notice there is another cyclist approaching behind me and is probably going to shoal so I get ready to just take off.
  2. I take off and somehow this guy doesn’t shoal and start the ramp up on that little downhill leading into JFK drive.  At this point I continue my sprint downhill and I am in my typical position of being in the left part of the bike lane.
  3. Reach about 20mph and I notice a Prius starts to barely pass me, slows down, and then turns on it’s signal right hand turn signal.
  4. I see the right wheel turn, and I go OH FUCK they are going into the Park and Rec office parking lot. At this point, they are only a car length or two ahead of me.
  5. They keep going without yielding and I scrub off some speed and swerve around them. I managed to scrub off from 22mph -> 17mph in that one second according to the GPS data.
  6. Then I quickly look over and there is traffic trying to get back in the JFK Dr lane since they were passing the Prius and I go oh fuck time to get back in the bike lane.
  7. Here is where I curse the SF and the SFBC – the out I wanted to go is blocked by those flexible barriers in the stripped zone between the bike lane and car lane. If I hit one of those at the angle I was going to hit them at, I was likely to get one in to a spoke and do something bad.
  8. Swerve again and now I am on the path to hit the curb.
  9. Something just tells me look down the path I want to go, so I do and everything just follows and I get parallel to the curb with plenty of space to spare (in this case, I had about a foot in the end)
  10. Now I have the next obstacle, there is a fucking runner in the bike lane running right at me – at least at this point things are stabilized that things are back to normal and that was more of a gripe than an near death experience.

Every time I closed my eyes last night – the events replayed in my mind with different scenarios that would have ended in a bad crash. If that car was just a second or two later, I would have had no other choice but to emergency brake and end up in the door of a Prius.

Somehow throughout this, my upper body stayed loose and never tensed up. The other part was, before this weekend, I didn’t move my head as much on my bicycle. I used mostly my eyes to steer. Now, my head is pointing where I want to go and I am keeping it up more. In fact the only time during my commute the last two days where it stayed pointed down for any real length of time was is on the uphill of a KOM attempt on an overpass segment in Mountain View – and that was because I needed to watch my power output closely.

I really think spending 10 hours on those under powered motorcycles in a parking lot put some new muscle memory into me and may have just saved my ass.

I am really starting to believe from my biker friends that road cycling is way more dangerous than being on a motorcycle. At least if I had my motorcycle gear on, there would have been way more to protect me if I did have to hit the car. Still would fucking hurt.

Well I need to get stuff packed for DNA this weekend. If anyone I know will be in Vegas over the next few days, say woof.

Coffee Time

How I started of 2017 vs 2016.

It is amazing how quick 2016 flew by. In a way, I can’t believe is 2017 now. Last year I started off with this selfie.

How I started 2016

Over the year, somehow I became a huge selfie whore and kept on improving my technique. Sometime over the summer I realized, my primary camera has a decent WiFi remote control app and realized I could take better post run selfies at home, and I did. Before I knew it, I ended up with this morning ritual where I would workout and take a selfie.

How I started off 2017

In many ways, I am looking forward to 2017. We are going to have a challenging year for sure, but I have set personal goals to resolve ambitions that I have always back burnered. I hope everyone else will have a good 2017.

The Day After…

Last night we shattered.

Today we protest.

Tomorrow we prepare.

In January we fight!

We don’t know what exactly what will happen yet. Congress holds a lot of power and there are enough rifts that maybe the Republicans in congress will come to their senses and block some this madness. Maybe the reaction we are having is over blown. I want to believe that things are not going to be as bad as I fear. I want to have hope, but it is so dark outside.

Regardless of what may happen – we need to prepare to fight.

For the first time ever in my life, I am worried about my personal safety and right to exist as an openly gay American even in a city like SF. I feel like it is time to prepare for this four year long battle.

The photo below is from the Kemang Wa Lehulere: In All My Wildest Dreams art exhibation at the Art Institute of Chicago. When I took this photo of the shattered dogs installed as part of the exhibition, I never thought this is how I would feel merely 12 hours after.

One of the shattered dogs from the Kemang Wa Lehulere: In All My Wildest Dreams exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago
One of the shattered dogs from the Kemang Wa Lehulere: In All My Wildest Dreams exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago
Overview of the installation.
Overview of the installation.